Dr. Mende attended Medical School at the University of Hamburg in Germany, followed by postdoctoral training in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Hamburg and in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She launched a career as an independent scientist and principal investigator at Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mende was then recruited by Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School to help establish a new Cardiovascular Research Center. Her research focuses on cell signaling in heart cells under normal and pathophysiological conditions. Her work has been funded by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she has also been serving as grant reviewer for many years.
Ulrike Mende is interested in the functional role of G proteins (GTP-binding proteins) and their regulators (Regulators of G protein Signaling) in the heart. Changes in their amount or function can lead to compromised cardiac function and disease, such as cardiac hypertrophy, failure and arrhythmias. Her reseach focus has been on understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms in both myocytes and fibroblasts, with the long-term goal to identify new therapeutic targets.
Dr. Mende has a background in pharmacology and molecular cardiology and a particular research interest in the regulation of heart rate, contractile function and extracellular matrix production via G protein-mediated signaling pathways in the healthy and diseased heart. Signal transduction via heterotrimeric G proteins is one of the most important mechanisms of signal transfer across the cell membrane in virtually all cells, including cardiac cells. G proteins act as relay switches that link extracellular signals on the cell surface to changes in ion channel activity and second messenger pathways inside the cell, which in turn elicit changes in cellular function. Dr. Mende's research focuses on elucidating how perturbations in G proteins and their regulators (so-called RGS proteins or Regulators of G protein Signaling) in cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts contribute to the development of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, heart failure and arrhythmias, with the long-term goal to identify potential new therapeutic targets. Her team conducts gain- and loss-of-function studies in primary heart cell cultures and genetically modified mouse models and uses molecular and biochemical assays to examine gene/protein expression and regulation as well as physiological techniques to assess heart cell and cardiac functions. Current projects in the Mende laboratory include investigations of (i) the regulation of G protein signaling in cardiac fibroblasts and their role in determining the cardiac remodeling response to hemodynamic stress, and (ii) the functional significance and mechanisms of communication between cardiac fibroblasts and myocytes. It is well recognized that the two major cardiac cell types determine the structural, mechanical and electrical characteristics of the heart, but the communication between them is still poorly understood. To that end, the Mende laboratory (in collaboration with other Brown faculty) has been developing novel 2D and 3D co-culture models that mimic key characteristics of cardiac tissue and allow for examination of myocyte-fibroblast communication under defined experimental conditions.
Current Research Funding:
Title: Advancing Experimental Models top Study Intercellular Communication of Cardiac Cells
Grant/Source: R21 HL113918-01A1; NIH/NHLBI
Dates: 01/16/2013 - 12/31/2015 (NCE)
Amount: $137,500 per year (direct)
Role: Principal Investigator
Title: Regulation of Gq Signaling in Cardiac Fibroblasts and its Role in Cardiac Remodeling
Grant/Source: R01 HL114784-01A1; NIH/NHLBI
Dates: 09/01/2013 - 05/31/2017
Amount: $303,031 per year (direct)
Role: Principal Investigator
Title: A Multi-Scale Approach to Cardiac Arrhythmia: from the Molecule to the Organ
Source: R01 HL110791-01A1; NHLBI
Dates: 08/01/2013 - 05/31/2018
Amount: Partial salary support
Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Dr. G. Koren)
Title: Endothelial Injury and Repair: CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE
Source: P20 GM103652-01A1; NIH/NIGMS
Dates: 09/20/2013 - 05/31/2018
Amount: Partial salary support
Role: Faculty Mentor (PI: Dr. S. Round; Project PI: Dr. P. Zhang)
Title: Functional Integration of Aligned Engineered Cardiac Tissue in Infarcted Heart
Source: DEANS Award; Brown University
Dates: 11/01/2014 – 12/31/2015
Role: Co-PI (with Dr. K. Coulombe)
International Society for Heart Research
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
American Heart Association
German Society of Heart and Circulation Research
American Physiological Society
Ulrike Mende has taught the entire spectrum of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology to medical students in traditional lecture format at the University of Hamburg in Germany from 1988 to 1992. In 1993, she gained experience with the problem-oriented learning approach at Harvard Medical School by leading a tutorial group in the Principles in Pharmacology course for 1st year medical students. From 2001-2005, she was on the faculty for the Integrated Human Physiology course as tutor and was nominated by Harvard Medical School students for teaching awards twice. Since Dr. Mende joined the faculty of Brown University, she has been actively involved in teaching undergraduate, graduate and medical students and received a Deans's Teaching Award.
In addition, she continously has been teaching postdoctoral fellows and students in her laboratory by guiding them in their research and serving as their mentor. She is also a readily available resource for other Principal Investigators and members of their laboratories and is mentoring junior faculty in their quest towards independence.